To hear him talk, one might take Anthony Hardy Williams for a Republican, but that’s because the life-long Democrat says experience has taught him no party has a monopoly on good ideas—or bad.


As a former PepsiCo employee and small business owner, he says government can’t grow an economy, but it can create business-friendly environments that can. And as a student who struggled to get Cs until he went to a private school, he favors anything that rescues failing inner-city youths from bad public schools—including vouchers.

“I’m a frustrated Democrat and I’m unconventional,” he told the New Pittsburgh Courier editorial board during a March 25 visit. “I talk about vouchers and I talk about charter schools because right now we’re condemning a generation to either prison or public assistance.”

Williams sees a directed, quality education as the basis for correcting not only Pennsylvania’s economic woes, but also its social woes. He wants school curricula aligned with industries like bioscience and pharmacy, with a heavy focus on math and science.

An ignorant and uneducated population destroys civilization,” he said. “And, if we’re going to bring businesses into the state, we need an educated work force.”

As for his competitiveness in a Democratic Primary where his three opponents include Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel and two with higher name recognition—former state Senator and state Auditor General Jack Wagner and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Williams said he just has to get out and communicate his vision.

“None of them are talking about anything new, they’re talking about new taxes and cuts,” said Williams. “They aren’t talking about what I’m talking about. So, do you want, basically, four or eight more years of Ed Rendell, or do you want something new?”

When asked what it means to him that the most recent poll has Onorato with 11 percent of Democratic respondents saying they’d vote for him, and Wagner with 7 percent, Hoeffel at 5 percent and himself at 4 percent, Williams said it means Onorato is “catchable.”

When asked about the 71 percent who still have not decided on a candidate, Williams said, “That’s music to my ears.”

Should he advance to face, in all likelihood, Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett in the fall, Williams said his experience, again, is something Corbett doesn’t have.

“He’s a prosecutor, that’s what he does. He’s not an administrator and hasn’t had to work with the General Assembly—I have. I’ve worked with members on both sides of the aisle to get things done. Looking at his joining this lawsuit against the healthcare bill, I think he’s aligned himself with the fringe elements of his party. That’s not me.”

Williams says he favors making use of conventional energy sources over “renewables” because they cannot handle the load and require backup anyway, so any savings in an illusion. But he would make sure development the Marcellus Shale deposit benefits the state with an extraction tax.

He would also close some tax loopholes and diligently pursue the $1.6 billion in corporate taxes that go unpaid annually. He would also move to lower the corporate tax rates.

“I’m trusting that people share my vision of, hopefully, faith, a job that’s stable and schools that work,” he said.

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